Personally Yours

When was the last time you picked up a pen and wrote a letter in long hand? Grainy, silky or just plain vanilla, I miss the feel of personal correspondence. In looking through some old photographs and family memorabilia, I came across a poem my mother sent me when I was working overseas. While holding the yellowed paper in my hands, I had an overwhelming sense of her presence. I wasn’t simply reading her words; I was hearing her voice.

Our family lived near the ocean and as a child I loved wandering off the beach and meandering along the boardwalk. On the back of a faded photo of a beach outing, my father had written in his unique calligraphic style, “We removed 13 splinters from Suzy’s feet.” I immediately relived being carried off in my father’s arms to the first aid station where I ate enough Tootsie Rolls between wailings to overshadow any negative aspects of the foot surgery. And I remembered what a terrific swimmer dad was.

I still have my older brother Bobby’s letter sent while he was waiting to be shipped out from Okinawa to Japan during World War II. The enemy was unyielding, the invasion force was huge and not many GIs were expected to survive the first wave on to the beaches. But true to his nature Bobby didn’t want us to worry. His letter was upbeat with funny doodles. By the time we received the letter the U.S. had dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki signaling the end of the war. My brother went to Japan as an occupier, not an invader, and he lived to tell his story. These intimate moments are the stuff of life that connect us to each other; they give us a real sense of our own history. For our Iraq and Afghanistan GI’s, email is a blessing, but without the smell of the stationery.

Today we live in a no touch world. Send an electronic greeting card or an email, instant message a friend with all those blah, blah acronyms-on to the next multi-task. We’re too busy for personal notes. It’s so much easier to be personally disconnected, while remaining impersonally connected to a faceless impersonal world. Not only has writing by hand passed into history, sadly there is a definite disconnect between humans in all areas of life. We complain about the rudeness in our society, but it is precisely this disconnect-not having to look someone in the eye or confront them on the phone-which encourages the rudeness. Never having to say I’m sorry is baloney. It lets us off the hook of responsibility for our actions. We’re too busy to be civil; we’re on to the next multi-task.

Speaking of multi-tasking, I saw a commercially successful young couple on television reveling in the fact that they each work 80 to 100 hours a week. They are so in love with their jobs they never take a vacation; they’re never without their cell phones and Blackberries. On trains, planes and automobiles, how many folks do you see that are not electronically tethered or otherwise digitally occupied? Ask them what color the clouds are and they cannot tell you.

Consider what humans would look like millennia from now if hearing and seeing were the only senses that developed. We could “evolve” like the subject of a science fiction story I read as a child. Absent arms and legs, the protagonist was an enormous brain with tiny holes for ears and eyes. That’s a bit of a stretch, but you get my drift. It’s easier to plug in and zone out rather than deal with the demands of 21st century life.

Technology frees us to sit back and let someone else, or something else, do what our arms, legs and brains are naturally programmed to do. Unfortunately, while we are enjoying the remarkable attributes technology brings into our lives, we are being blindsided by the scum of society that use technology to lie, cheat, scam or lure our kids into places we don’t want them to go-for example, pornography. In an interview with serial killer Ted Bundy just before his execution he stated that unless society deals with pornography, “lots of kids…are going to be dead tomorrow.” Bundy told his interviewer that every killer he knew through the prison grapevine had been influenced in childhood by pornography.

Kids today are brighter and more beautiful than ever before. Plugging in needn’t mean zoning out. It’s our responsibility to be aware, be very aware of what is happening around us. The more aware we are the more apt we are to get the government we need and the quality of life we deserve.


My website is under reconstruction until 2010. Meanwhile, you can find me at

You can also read two chapters of my novel, The Sword and the Chrysanthemum, Journey of the Heart at []

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Author: Uzumaki Naruto

Expert tips before traveling Japan, including reviews of Japanese food and restaurants to help you make your trip as enjoyable and rewarding as possible.

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